New Delhi: Aligarh city was tense after clashes broke out on Sunday evening between police and anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protesters in Shah Jamal and Uparkot area of Aligarh district, in which at least six persons were injured. Two of the injured are in a critical condition, confirmed officials.
As per reports, stones were pelted, a few vehicles were damaged and a ‘Muslim’ shop was partly burnt in the violence. The police used teargas to disperse the crowd.
Meanwhile, Aligarh District Magistrate Chandra Bhushan Singh has claimed that women students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) were the "masterminds" behind Uparkot violence and their role would be investigated.
“Some women students from AMU are behind this, we are trying to identify them,” he said, adding that “We are ascertaining the damage caused by rioters and it will be recovered from them. The situation is under control now," Singh told media persons.
Countering the DM’s claim that women students of AMU were behind the violence, a woman student told NewsClick: "Aligarh police used a free hand yesterday on the protesting women in Uparkot area. They were lathi-charged and tear-gassed. Women were beaten. The images are horrifying.
Alleging that the police had displayed a biased approach, the student said men were detained “randomly.”
“Shops in Muslim localities were burnt down along with Right-wing goons. The police seemed to provide them cover as they incited communal violence. In the darkness created by the absence of internet, the police, with their Sangh nexus, will do whatever they want to. The DM's claims that we instigated violence is totally unfair as our university is far from where incident took place,” the student added.
The student said their peaceful protest was going on over the past few days and not a single incident had taken place and questioned “what happened suddenly that protesters were beaten black and blue. After an AMU student's hand was amputated (in the December police attack), another person will probably lose sight in one eye," the student claimed.
Meanwhile, a heavy contingent of police is patrolling the area while internet services have been suspended in the district for 24 hours since Sunday at 6 p.m.
Those injured in clashes included a 22-year-old onlooker, who, according to his father, was fired at and injured by a "miscreant", whom, he said he recognises.
Four other person suffered injuries from pellets and rubber bullets, two of them in their eyes, with one of them likely to lose his left eye, said doctors treating them.
Zeeshan, a doctor at Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in AMU, who is treating some injured persons, told NewsClick: "Mohammad Ibrahim (25) had a pellet injury in his left eye. Though the doctors had operated on him, he could lose his vision in that eye. Another person named Mohammad Tariq (22) had a firearm injury on the left side of his chest and is admitted in the hospital."
Tariq, whose father and brother told the police in the hospital in the presence of some reporters, said his son suffered a bullet injury after a “miscreant” opened fire at him amid clashes between police and protesters.
Tariq was admitted at JNMCH where doctors described his condition as “serious”. He has suffered a bullet injury in his stomach, they said.
A hospital spokesperson said five persons had been admitted in the hospital after Sunday’s clashes, including a 25-year-old man, Mohammad Ibrahim, who had pellet injury in his eye.
The spokesperson said another youth, Kalim, 22 too was hit by a rubber bullet in his chest but was out of danger.
DIG Preetinder Singh told PTI that the police resorted to “use of force” after protesters targeted them with heavy stone-pelting.
The violence took place at Mohamed Ali Road, which leads to Kotwali police station, where some women protesters have been on a sit-in protest since Saturday. The trouble began around 5 p.m when the police tried to evict the women from the area..
“We told them that women protesters were already holding a protest at Idgah (in the Shah Jamal area) and they would not be permitted to hold another such protest near Kotwali (less than half a kilometre away),” the Aligarh DM said.
The protesting women, however, claimed that a group of youths opened fire on them while police was there. “On Sunday, over 1,000 women were taking out a procession in Mohalla Khatikana (on Mohamed Ali Road). The women saw some youths standing in front of a beer shop and making a video of them, and asked for their identities. Instead of replying, the youths attacked the women with lathis and also fired from pistols. Then the police followed them and opened fire.”
A police inspector said the “clash started when some women objected to the video-recording of the procession by some people”.
Meanwhile, Singh denied that the police opened fire. “Two groups of people clashed and the police fired tear gas to disperse them. We are trying to identify who had fired,” he added.
Singh alleged that “some female students in the crowd were instigating the anti-CAA protesters to resort to violence. We are trying to identify those students. The situation is under control. We have deployed forces at sensitive places in the city.”
Also Read: Why a Crackdown on Shah Jamal Protesters is Unjust
(With inputs from PTI)